Jerusalem Marathon Spurs Political Saber-Rattling
It’s the crown jewel of Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat’s ambitious grand plan to promote his ancient city: a scenic, world-class marathon winding through historic hills and religious sites.
But like many things in Jerusalem, even Friday’s marathon has become fraught with politics, a magnet for opposing claims by Israelis and Palestinians.
The Palestinians have called for a boycott of the race because the route goes through east Jerusalem, their hoped-for capital. On the other side of the political divide, a hard-line Israeli lawmaker plans to run the course to assert Israeli sovereignty over the entire city.
The competing claims, even over a seemingly innocuous sporting event, reflect the deep emotions over Jerusalem.
Israel captured east Jerusalem from Jordan in the 1967 Mideast war and considers the whole city its capital, though the claim is not recognized internationally. The Palestinians say there cannot be peace without shared sovereignty in east Jerusalem.
The fate of the area, and particularly the ancient Old City, which is home to sensitive Jewish, Christian and Muslim holy sites, has long been the most explosive issue in peace efforts.